Nutella Swirl Banana Bread

Ahh….Nutella. Pretty much a gift from the gods. The most wondrous thing about this stuff is that you can put it in almost anything: cake, cookies, fruits, toast. And it’s an excuse to eat chocolate for breakfast. I wanted to make something more than the usual home-comfort banana bread, so I used Cup of Jo’s Nutella Swirled Banana Bread recipe.

Not only did it taste divine, but pretty too.

2014-06-08 23.38.52I’ll have to work on my knife swirling next time.

2014-06-08 22.08.57I actually cut the recipe in half to make 1 loaf, but here is the original recipe:

  • 3 large or 4 medium (2 cups mashed) bananas, very ripe - for a 1 loaf I used just 2 bananas 
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 4 oz. (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup milk I used unsweetened organic soy milk 
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp. rum, optional
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup Nutella

Prep work: preheat oven to 350ºF. Line the loaf pans with parchment paper and butter well- makes clean up a lot easier.

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Start by mashing up the bananas with a fork or whisk, mash it until you just have some small chunks left.

In a stand mixer: combine the 1 cup packed brown sugar + 1/2 cup melted butter, 1/2 cup milk, 2 eggs, 2 tsp. vanilla and 1 tablespoon rum.

In a separate bowl, whisk together 3 cups of flour, 2 teaspoons of baking powder, 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda and 1 1/2 teaspoon of salt.

Add the dry ingredients to the sugar/butter mixture, just until smooth. Add the bananas and mix just until they are combined.

2014-06-08 22.31.31Here comes the fun part! Microwave 1/2 cup of Nutella in a small heatproof bowl for about 20 seconds to get it a little more like chocolate sauce. Drizzle about 2/3 cup of it into the banana bread batter.

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Do not mix it into the batter but gently fold the Nutella into the batter, using a spatula scoop under the batter and bring it back up, folding over the top- do it about 3-4 times. At this point if you are making 2 loaves, divide the batter evenly into the pans.

Take the remaining Nutella (honestly, add more of you want!!) and drizzle it in two straight vertical lines down the top of the batter, then run a knife through the lines horizontally to achieve the swirl effects. 2014-06-08 22.49.51

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Bake for about 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. After taking it out from the oven, let it cool for about 10 minutes. Gently lift out with the sides of the parchment paper and cut into thick slices. 2014-06-08 23.57.34The bread is actually not too sweet/sugary, it allows the naturally sweetness of the ripened bananas come out and the rich nutty flavors of the Nutella take center stage. Great with a cup of coffee or a glass of milk. Grab a slice for breakfast, afternoon tea or post-dinner dessert.

2 (okay more like 4) Minute Chocolate Mug Cake

I’ve been wanting to try these “mug recipes” that pop up on my Facebook newsfeed- amazing meals and treats that you cook and eat in your friggin’ mug!! Good news for those college students in dorms! No excuses- all you have to do is mix and let your chef microwave do the work!

Plus- keeps the clean up to a minimum.

I borrowed this super-easy recipe from I Am a Food Blog: 2 Minute Chocolate Mug Cake Recipe. Doubling the recipe because I have a feeling I won’t be sharing!

2014-06-16 21.18.37First find a slightly larger microwavable mug (you want a bigger mug because the batter does rise and could spill over a little.)

Stir together 1 egg, 3 tablespoons of milk, 3 tablespoons of oil (coconut, vegetable, canola, etc.)

2014-06-16 21.28.39Mix in 3 tablespoons of flour, 1/4 cup sugar (I know it’s a LOT of sugar proportionally- so I’d say you can use less), 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder. Stir until well mixed. Lastly, add a splash of vanilla extract and 2 tablespoons of chocolate chips. Give it a few good stirs.

2014-06-16 21.28.49Depending on your microwave’s power-you’ll “bake” it in there for 2-4 minutes. I had to do 4 minutes because I have a dinky cheap microwave (that I need to clean…..I know I know.) At 2 minutes it still looked really softed, so I left it in longer. It was pretty firm, so maybe next time 3- 3 1/2 minutes would have been good too. Place a plate underneath to ensure no messy spillage in the microwave.

2014-06-16 21.36.31There it is, my first mug cake! It’s hot, definitely use mitts and let it cool for 5 minutes.

2014-06-16 21.52.48Enjoy it any way you like, this is a very basic chocolate cake you can eat straight from the mug with a spoon. Or you can jazz it up in all sorts of ways. Consider adding:

  • sprinkles (can’t go wrong with sprinkles)
  • whip cream
  • a scoop of ice cream
  • caramel sauce
  • banana slices/ fruit
  • nutella
  • walnuts
  • bacon bits
  • sea salt
  • All of the above.

2014-06-16 21.51.49It falls out pretty easily from the mug if you want to put it on a plate. It’s almost like an upside-down cake with the melted chocolate chips that fell to the bottom giving the top an extra creamy sweetness. The cake is very dense and fudgy. I’m so intrigued by the idea baking with oven-alternatives!

2014-06-16 21.53.11-1All good things come to those who wait, but no need to wait long for chocolate cake!

(Super) Healthy Raspberry Chocolate Protein Brownies

Thought I’d kickoff this month with this super-healthy recipe that will rock your taste buds. June means summer and summer means getting in shape and you can’t do that with regular sugar-ladened brownies (well at least I can’t). I’m on a no-additive-sugar kick for the past few weeks, but last night I was kind of dying and looking for ways to cheat. I stumbled upon Ambitious Kitchen’s 100 Calorie Raspberry Chocolate Protein Brownies- and they were the answer to my prayers.

Yes, I know the chocolate chips probably have sugar.

2014-06-01 21.31.02The true miracle here was that I just so happen to have all the ingredients I needed including the raspberries (freshly bought before I intended to make these brownies), whey powder, agave nectar and coconut oil. These aren’t things I lot of people just have stocked up in their kitchens I assume.

You will need:

  • 8×8 square pan, greased (or use parchment paper)
  • 1/4 cup rolled oats + blender (or oat flour)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup Whey vanilla or chocolate powder (I got mine from Trader Joes)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce (which I didn’t have but I used a nice ripe banana instead)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon honey (replacement: agave nectar)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup almond milk (or soy milk should be fine)
  • 2 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips + 2 tablespoons for later)
  • 1/2 cup raspberries (rip in halves or pieces)

Preheat the oven for 350 F. Put the oats in a blender and blend for 45 sec to 1 min: instant oat flour! Cool beans.

2014-06-01 21.42.55Mix the oat flour with the cocoa powder and whey powder. Set aside.

2014-06-01 21.45.11Blend the wet ingredients well: mashed banana (or your apple sauce), egg, agave, vanilla extract and milk.

2014-06-01 21.45.25In a microwaveable bowl: heat up the chocolate chips with the coconut oil for about 45 seconds. The coconut oil looks like water, but don’t worry keep stirring and it blends well together.

2014-06-01 21.50.59Combine the wet mixture in with the dry mixture and then lastly, add the melted chocolate: blend blend blend away!

2014-06-01 21.52.23Pour into your prepared pan and arrange the raspberry pieces on top and sprinkle the extra chocolate chips on top.

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I’m not the biggest fan of raspberries, but these beautiful red gems make a HUGE difference in taste and texture with the finished product. The raspberry provides an extra tartness that brings out the very very (very!) subtle sweetness of the brownies.

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Bake for about 22-27 minutes and then take out to cool. I baked it for an extra 5 minutes than the original recipe because I wasn’t sure if the brownies were suppose to be that soft- I got a little worried that I did not bake them long enough. The extra 5 minutes firmed up the brownies a bit more.

2014-06-01 22.43.50The texture is definitely very similar to gluten-free or flourless desserts: very fudge-y and dense. I have to admit when I first bit into one I was like, it’s not sweet at all!!! Ugh! But I guess that’s what happens when I’m so used to eating lots of high-sugar foods. I really had to take a moment to find the subtle sweetness from the chocolate chips and agave. Mmmmm!

2014-06-01 22.43.36Remember to store these in a air-tight container and in the fridge. I have to warn you: these do taste super-healthy. It’s not going to taste like a Betty-Crocker brownie and have 100 calories: the world doesn’t work that way. But I definitely learned to appreciate these and since they are full of protein I can feel less guilty nibbling on one of these post-workout! Happy baking!

Mochi Brownies

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For a delicious brownie recipe with a twist, this Mochi Brownie recipe from justJENN is awesome! The best part was most of the ingredients are staples found in the kitchen with the exception of a few gems you’ll have to venture out for like the Mochiko sweet rice flour and evaporated milk.

I was pretty excited for another chance to make a sweet treat with Mochiko again after I made the Blueberry Mochi Cake that I still get requests for!

Start of with:

  • 1 cup mochiko (sweet rice flour)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 (12 oz) can evaporated milk
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

With the stickiness of mochi, parchment paper is your best friend. For extra ease of serving and clean up – butter the parchment paper and fit it to a square 8×8 pan.

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Preheat the oven to 350 degree F. Melt the 4 Tbls of butter + 1/2 cup of chocolate chips (save the other half for later) on slow heat- keep stirring so you don’t burn the chocolate. Just has it’s all smooth and melted, remove from heat and set aside.

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In a bowl mix the dry ingredients together: mochiko, sugar, baking soda and salt.

*I actually only added 1/2 cup of sugar to reduce the sweetness and make it ever-so-slightly healthier. I think the chocolate will be plenty sweet enough.

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Slowly pour in the warm chocolate mixture into the dry ingredient bowl, then mix in the evaporated milk, vanilla, and egg. Add the egg at the end so the mixture has a real chance to cool from the milk or else the heat might cook the egg.

2014-05-03 21.38.28Once all the ingredients are thoroughly combined, pour into the pan. Lastly sprinkle the other 1/2 cup of chocolate chips into the pan. Then bake for about 35-40 minutes.

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The brownies came out wonderfully moist and with the mochi- extra chewy! The texture is definitely not the usual “cakey” or fudgey brownies. And I was right, the brownies were sweet but not too sweet with the perfect amount of chocolatey goodness- no real need for that extra 1/2 cup of sugar.

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2014-05-03 22.44.56Great to share at a party…..or eat by yourself while watching “Sex and the City”. hehe.

 

Basil Cream Chicken

This recipe for Basil Cream Chicken is fast and easy, but looks and tastes fancy-pants-y. Great way to make a tasty meal from boring old chicken breasts. Be warned though, definitely not one of those light, healthy recipes! For this recipe you will need:

  • 4 chicken breasts (skinless and boneless)
  • 1/4 cup milk (or plain soy milk)
  • 1/4 cup dried bread crumbs (I got a bag from Trader Joe’s -great buy!)
  • 3 tablespoons of butter
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 4oz jar of pimento peppers, drained (optional)

Start by placing the milk and bread crumbs in two separate shallow bowls.

Dip and cover the chicken breasts in the milk then the coat with bread crumbs evenly.

Heat the butter with medium heat in a shallow pan and pan fry the chicken, flipping it occasionally on each side. Depending on the thickness of the chicken it may take 10-20 mins.

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Remove the chicken and to keep warm I kept them covered with a glass pot cover. Immediately pour 1/2 cup of chicken broth into the pan and heat up. Stir to loosen the leftover bits in the pan.

When it comes to a boil, turn down the heat and add in the heavy cream (and pimentos if you’d like to add those). Stir for 1 minute and turn down the heat to low just enough to keep it warm.

2013-05-22 19.51.21Add in the parmesan cheese, chopped basil, and black pepper. Stir and sniff that wonderful rich smell from the cheese and fresh basil- *sniff* ahhh.

2013-05-22 19.53.44I served the chicken with a side of bowtie pasta – the sauce makes it a perfect combo! And a generous side of steam broccoli to balance out the rich cream sauce, gotta the greens in.

2013-05-22 20.09.23Dinner is served!

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Healthy Veggie Frittata

I have a confession, this was a recipe born out of necessity due to stupidity. I apparently love zucchinis too much and bought more from the store when I did not realize I had a whole bunch at home already! Lesson learned: always take inventory of the fridge before grocery shopping. So what’s a girl to do with a ton of zucchinis?

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Shred the heck outta them and put them in anything I can think of.

I wanted to make a egg bake/ frittata with zucchini and other vegetables in my fridge, but I couldn’t find the “perfect” recipe that uses all the ingredients that I had. So used this recipe as a “base” for the right proportion of eggs, milk, and flour and got creative with the rest.

Whisk together 6 eggs, 3/4 cup milk, and 2 tablespoon of all-purpose flour.

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I had some fun adding tons of random spices! Got the idea from a variety of zucchini egg bake recipes. Of course fresh herbs would have been better.

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I took a buttered 9-in. round baking pan and filled the bottom up with all my favorites from my fridge: mini sweet bell peppers, asparagus cut into 1 in pieces, and shredded deli turkey meat. Look at those colors! Of course this is the fun part where you can add whatever you’d like: onions, peppers, corn, mushrooms, cheese, chicken strips, etc. Ooohhhhh, if only I had some bacon.

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Add about 2 cups of shredded zucchini. I actually wish I added it to the bottom and let the more colorful veggies be on top. Then pour the egg mixture into the pan until it fills up almost to the brim. When you bake it, it will puff up a little but it won’t spill over.

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Ready to go in the oven for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

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I almost forgot to add the sundried tomatoes before I took the before-picture and I sprinkled some sundried tomatoes from Trader Joe’s on top, it really was the much needed final touch! It not only made the frittata extra flavorful, but really made the dish visually pop.

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Pair with a side of greens and you got yourself a delicious healthy brunch.

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Happy brunching!

Bailey’s Irish Cream Cupcakes

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I know that I am totally late for a St. Paddy’s day themed cupcake, but come on- it’s got Bailey’s in it, do we need a reason to make (and eat) these boozy treats?! I’m pretty proud of these cupcakes, the cake and the buttercream frosting came out the way I hoped probably because I finally had a real free day to just bake! I admit I have a tendency to bake in the middle of the night and be rushing to finish and go to bed.

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For these delicious Bailey’s Irish Cream cupcakes I followed the Sweet Tooth blog version of it. Her decorations are so cute and festive! I don’t tend to drink to often, but I do remember being pretty fond of Bailey’s in college so thought St. Patrick’s Day weekend was the perfect opportunity to try an alcohol-infused cupcake.

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This is the star the show- using 1/2 cup in the batter (it leaves a light, barely-there hint of Irish Cream. Later in the buttercream, you’ll use 3 tablespoons which gives plenty of strong, smooth flavor of the liquor.

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Alternate adding the dry flour mixture and the Bailey’s into the egg mixture, starting and ending with flour.

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As soon as the mixture looks evenly mixed, fill the cups with the batter and bake for about 16 mins.

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They come out with a lovely light cappuccino color and they smell AMAZING. While they are cooling, get started on the buttercream. For the butter cream (the best part!), cream together 1 cup of room temperature butter, 4 cups of powdered sugar, and 3 tablespoons of Bailey’s. My family don’t like too much sweetness, so I definitely only made one batch of the buttercream for 24 cupcakes and I still had SO much left.

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I realized that after many failed attempts making frosting does not come easily to me and I realize that’s because I’m never well prepared or I’m in a hurry and I under mix or over mix the cream. This time, it came out perfect: thick, rich, smooth and fluffy!

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For a bit of jolly green cheer, I added some green sprinkles I bought from Michaels.

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Because of the Bailey’s in the buttercream, I would not actually give this to children! For those over 21, eat responsibly and don’t just lick off all the frosting! Cheers!